Hohokam ruins restoration in Mesa to begin at last

[Source: Jim Walsh, Mesa Republic, 11-18-2009] — Visitors will get their first opportunity to use a new interpretive trail through the Mesa Grande Ruins in March during the annual open house.  Construction on the trail begins on Dec. 1 and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, the first stage of development of ruins as a tourist attraction and educational facility since the city bought it in 1987.

The open house is scheduled for March 27.  It includes tours and a free pancake breakfast sponsored by the Mesa Grande Community Alliance, a west Mesa neighborhood organization.  “It’s kind of the grand opening of the trail,” said Tom Wilson, director of the Arizona Museum of Natural History.  “It’s very gratifying to finally get some of the funding together to begin Phase One.”

Bids on the trail project came in so low that the museum may also include a small visitors parking lot for 15 vehicles on 10th Street and a small visitors entry area featuring a ticket booth, restrooms and a display area, said Jerry Howard, the museum’s curator of anthropology.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Hopi ruins near Winslow, Arizona face closure

Susan Secakuku, a Hopi Tribe official, speaks at an ancient structure at Homolovi Ruins State Park near Winslow. The site is important to the Hopi because it once was occupied by the tribe's Anasazi ancestors. The tribe is trying to develop a partnership that would keep the park open if budget cuts require park closures.
Susan Secakuku, a Hopi Tribe official, talks about the importance of Homolovi Ruins State Park near Winslow.

[Source: Daniel Newhauser, Cronkite News Service] — Before Homolovi Ruins became a state park, relic hunters with shovels and even backhoes used to tear through the rolling high desert here scrounging for ancient pottery.   Today, remnants of a 14th-century Anasazi village are preserved, and in some cases, restored so visitors such as Micah Lomaomuaya, a member of the Hopi tribe, can see how ancestors of the Hopi traded and farmed along the Little Colorado River.  But it also serves as a bridge between cultures, he said. “This is really a good stepping stone for us to use in terms of sharing our culture with the outside world,” said Lomaomuaya, a consulting anthropologist for his tribe.  “If this park closed, it would really limit our ability to reach and interact with the outside world.”

As the Legislature grapples with a $3 billion budget shortfall for fiscal year 2010, Homolovi Ruins, the only state park dedicated to Native American culture, is among facilities that could face closure as Arizona State Parks anticipates budget cuts.

That’s no small worry to Lomaomuaya and others in the Hopi tribe, whose reservation lies 60 miles north of Homolovi Ruins, but whose history is embedded in this auburn expanse that in Hopi means “place of the little hills.”  “It cannot close, in my mind,” Lomaomuaya said.  “It needs to be open for everybody.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tucson couple starts website to save state parks & cultural sites


die080.aiHusband-and-wife team Alan Sorkowitz and Michele Rappoport have created a new website, seeitbeforeitcloses.com. Alan, a retired book publishing executive, and Michele, a retired marketing communications writer, moved to Tucson in 2006 and began learning about and appreciating the natural beauty and rich cultural, historical, and archaeological heritage of Arizona.

Alan enjoys hiking in the Sonoran desert and volunteering on archaeological digs.  He is a member of numerous state and local cultural organizations and serves as archivist for the Tubac/Santa Cruz chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society. Michele designs and creates jewelry, much of which reflects the heritage of her new home state.

They created seeitbeforeitcloses.com in outrage over the threatened cuts to the Arizona state park system and to cultural sites — ancient Indian ruins, historic properties, arts centers, and others — being reported throughout the state.  “We didn’t move to Arizona to watch helplessly as its beauty and distinctiveness are lost to shortsighted budget cuts that threaten both Arizona’s tourism economy and the quality of life for its citizens,” says Alan. Michele underscores this point, saying, “Arizona’s parks are America’s parks. People come here to witness the majesty of a place they can experience nowhere else in the country.”

The goal for the website is to raise awareness and provide information as well as to raise funds that can be used to maintain Arizona parks and cultural sites and organizations.